Misadventures with Miso

Misadventures with Miso

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

On to Tokyo

So the very full plane I was on landed at Narita Airport and we all headed to Immigration. And I do mean all. Because of all the people who changed from Kansai Airport to Narita, Immigration was packed with people. And at one point, the line did not move for about 20 minutes. I have no idea what the problem was, but 2020 Olympics aren't that far away. Fixes are still needed.

So I was late getting out of Narita and had to wait for the last N'EX train. I finally arrived in Ikebukuro around 11:30 pm, that's 23:30 for those going by Japan time. I was exhausted since I did not get much sleep on the plane. Problem child that cried and yelled every time his mother would not hold him. Which happened a number of times. Kid was at least three years old so yeah, it was a problem. To the point that a Japanese guy yelled at him because he was going non-stop the whole time we were descending to land. Because his mother had to put in in the seat next to her. So when I did fall asleep, I was woken by this kid. A number of times.

I get to my hotel in Ikebukuro and up to my room. Only to find they gave me a smoking room even though I put on my reservation for a non-smoking room. Since there were no other vacancies, I did not have a choice. I asked for a clean pillow and if they could give me a non-smoking room the next day. Thankfully they did. Sadly I was not able to sleep much that night. What helped is I brought with me a bottle of BPAL's Victorian Goth scented oil. I put a little on the bed. It saved me.

Ikebukuro. This was my second time staying here. Where my hotel was, the area is nondescript. Cute kittens and puppies in the pet store across the way. At least the konbini in the area have decent food. 

These signs light up in different colors at night. And night time is a little interesting around here. The area seems to be a place where people go out on dates or hook up. Interesting side of Japanese behavior happened now and again. 

As to the weather, the sky was beautiful after Jebi blew through. The temperatures were in the 90°f and humidity was super high. Summer in Japan. But I was going to brave it because there were places I wanted to go.

Like Shinjuku. I did have a list of places I thought I might go to, but in the weeks before I left, different events were presented. So my list changed. It was all good. 

Shinjuku, showing off the ikemen.  

And ladies. The area seemed a bit less crowded than usual. It was the heat and humidity. 

Thankfully the place I was going was cool. Very cool. Ah, the old Moi-même-Moitié gates. It means only one thing, KERA Shop. And seeing all the new items they have. I was tempted to buy a number of things and I was happy to see them in person. I now have my want list. In time, it will happen.

The other reason for going was this display. Because of the MALICE MIZER 25th Anniversary concerts, KERA Shop and Moi-même-Moitié set up this photo area. Photo areas are very popular in Japan, especially those using anime, manga and game characters. This one was a little different because it was for fans of Mana, founder of MALICE MIZER and the creator of Moi-même-Moitié, and for people who love the fashion. 

It was a great idea because besides fans in Japan, people from all over the world were coming to Tokyo to go to the concerts. So having this event was a nice way to draw customers in. Besides the blue roses and posters were a few things that have not been shown to the public in a while. 

These cross tombstones are from the original Aoyama Moi-même-Moitié store. 

Just part of the decoration of that store, it was nice to see them as part of this display. 

A bit of Moi-même-Moitié history. 

A few posters from different times in Mana's career. A couple of his looks as leader of his band, Moi dix Mois. 

And modeling photos of Moi-même-Moitié outfits. 

There were props for those who wanted to take selfies.

Since I have posted photos of items from the old Moi-même-Moitié stores a couple of times, I thought I would share a few photos of those stores that I found on the internet. Here is how the gates were used originally.

Along with the cross tombstones.

Like I said, there were a number of things I wanted to buy. I knew I was going to get something, but I was surprised at what I was able to get. Because only a day or two before, it was announced that they would be selling the jewel cross pendants again. This is a classic piece with colored crystals, which were only offered in certain colors at certain times. I had wanted a blue one, but it was sold some time ago, and never seemed to come up for resale. So I was very happy for the return of the blue crosses. There are also red and black versions. I may get a black one, it has a cool gothic look.

After this I headed back to my hotel where I was able to change rooms. What a relief. And later, I did explore Ikebukuro a little. Which will be my next post.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

I Finally Make it to Hawaii

When I searched for air fare for my trip, the price was high because it was the end of summer. But one airline had discounted a couple of days. It meant that my trip would be shorter than usual, but the bonus besides the price was getting to go somewhere I had wanted to visit all my life. Hawaii. 

Flying into Oahu, I was not disappointed. The color of the water below, very intense and beautiful. Even when looking through an airplane window. 

As for the airport in Honolulu, it wasn't bad. Even though it is older, the people working there were helpful and nice. And the grounds had interesting things to see.

As to the weather, it was warm and humid but a beautiful day. 

I couldn't resist taking this photo. 

I had four hours between flights on Hawaiian Airlines, so I stopped at Makai Plantation for lunch. Breakfast in Portland, lunch in Honolulu, dinner in Tokyo. That was my plan.  

And I knew what I wanted. Since it was my first time in Hawaii, even if only for a couple of hours, I wanted to be a tourist. So I order a Blue Hawaiian. I use to enjoy these long ago. And the one here was very good. Even better was that piece of pineapple. It really was the best pineapple I have ever eaten. Soft, no fibers, and so sweet. I wish I had asked for more. Definitely will next time. 

Being a tourist, lunch had to be ahi poke. This was also very good. Served with a bit of wasabi, it was a great lunch.

I should mention that I had been worried that my flight to Tokyo might be cancelled because of Typhoon Jebi. My timing was good in that after crossing Honshu Island at Osaka, Jebi had moved along the western side of the island and was now north of it. My flight was still happening. However, there were many people who were not so lucky since their flights were to the Kansai Airport. Because the runways were flooded from the storm, and a bridge to the airport damaged, their flights were cancelled. Which meant many of them were moved to flights to Tokyo. Including on my flight.

Finally it was time to fly. I did get to see downtown Honolulu with Diamond Head in the distance. We flew over it but it was difficult to get decent photos. Very cool to see from the air. 

The U.S. Air Force uses the airport for their planes. Interesting to see these take off and land on the same runways. Along with jet fighters and stealth bombers. 

We taxed out to a runway built further away along the ocean. It really was a beautiful day! 

And the ocean, gorgeous. 

Aloha Hawaii, I hope I may see you again. 

Next stop, Tokyo. Across blue water, under blue sky. It was lovely to see the clouds from above.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Going Back to a Place that is in my Heart

Two years ago I went to Japan in August. For a concert. While the heat and humidity was not the greatest experience, the concert was something I had dreamed of doing, sort of. For about 14 or 15 years I have been a fan of a band that I wish I could have seen live. There are videos of their performances and I would watch and wonder what it would be like to be in that audience. Because this band would have amazing concerts that went beyond just performing music.

 2016 I needed something to look forward to. Returning to Japan after my last trip during which the Great Tohoku Disaster happened, and having the chance of a lifetime to see the founding members of this band perform together, that was something. I blogged about that trip here, and about the Deep Sanctuary concert which featured the reunion of Közi, Yu~ki and Mana, founding members of MALICE MIZER. It also was the start of my enjoyment of Moi dix Mois live performances.

So when this year's Deep Sanctuary's concert was announced, I wasn't considering going. I already had my trip for March planned. Plus being in that heat and humidity again wasn't something I was keen on, since it means going places is a little more difficult. I needed to deal with moving once I returned from Japan. Tickets went up for sale and I passed on buying one even though they had a special way for overseas fans to buy them.

However, the person who was putting this concert together kept making announcements about it. Like how this time there would be three vocalists. There would be more songs than there were at previous shows. New costumes, resurrecting classic instruments, and more.  Temptation. And then they announced a second day. By then I had everything taken care of in regard to my moving, and also a certain Gackt Taeyang doll sold for enough money to pay for my ticket. So I gave in.

September 11th, I got up early, caught a bus to the local train station and headed to Portland International Airport. My first time going this way, and it was really easy and very inexpensive. I don't think I've ever posted a photo of the trains here. Till now. They aren't fancy but they are run well. It was nice being able to put my feet up too. 

I'm pretty sure I've posted photos of Portland International Airport. So instead here is a photo of the place I ate breakfast at. Portland has more great restaurants than one can imagine. Getting an additional space in the airport is a popular thing, and The Country Cat is one of those restaurants.

Like most airport restaurants, Country Cat has a well appointed bar. 

However I was just there for food. I ordered their Eggs Benedict with Smoked Salmon. This was way more food than I normally eat. Even though it was really good, I couldn't finish it. But it was a nice meal to start my trip. 

Another benefit of flying out of Portland is getting to see the green woods and fields, along with Oregon's mountains. 

Along with all our rivers, bridges and volcanoes. Like Mt. Hood off in the distance. That is Portland below with the Cathedral Bridge and then the Burlington Northern Railroad Bridge.

However most of my flight to my first stop was over blue Pacific waters and clouds. Because I was trying something new for the place I would connect to my flight to Tokyo. Hawaii. Which will be in my next post. Aloha!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Someday Seattle

 So what did I do after flying back from Japan? I drove three hours to Seattle to go to Sakura-con. I did stop to eat. Checked out a Taco Time in Washington. Their veggie burrito was pretty good.

I was really tired but I figured I'd get sleep in my hotel room. There were two I was considering. In hindsight, I should have gotten a room at the other hotel. Because looks are deceiving. I was really wondering why my room was so huge. This is only half of it. Long hall to get in, big bathroom, and a big dressing area.

The reason why it was so large is because one wall was the back of the elevators. Which I heard all day and night. They finally slowed down around 2 am but started running non-stop again at 5 am. Which means I got three hours of sleep each night. Even with ear plugs it was constant noise. Given the hotel was fully booked, I knew I would not be given a different room. I would have left the second day but I really wanted to go to the Moi-même-Moitié tea party. At least it explains why I was so out of it at the party. I did not feel very good.

As to that hotel, after I got home I did put in a complaint. Surprisingly, or maybe not because they know that room is terrible, I was refunded my full amount for the room. So there is that.

As for my stay in Seattle, once again, grey weather. Third time visiting the city, each time it's the same. I know, this is the way it is in Seattle in the winter.

At least I got to enjoy using my Moi-méme-Moitié bat bag.  I wish I had been able to go to an autograph session. It would have been nice to have it signed and to tell Mana that this was one of the samples from his Moitié office. 

I did also get to use the bath salts I bought in Tokyo. 

I also did get out and walked around a little the first evening. I was too tired the second evening to go very far. 

Nice to see sakura blooming in Seattle. 

I walked along the waterfront a little bit. Down to the Ferris wheel and back.  

I was amused to see this advertising for Oregon. Yes the tulip fields are very nice.

 I was hoping for a little clearing of the skies but this was the best that happened that evening.

Yes I walked up these stairs. And then more stairs. 

I wasn't sure where to eat. I was hungry and I did find a place with a view of the water. And a glass of chardonnay. 

The wait staff at this place were really nice. The food was decent but not that inspiring. I wish I had looked into more the places to eat right around the hotel or in this area. This was their seared salmon with cilantro butter. 

And the view from my table. 

Since I already did posts about Sakura-con, I won't write about it here. This is the main post  http://blukats.blogspot.com/2018/04/sakura-con-2018.html. I can't help but think if I had a better hotel room my time at the convention would have been much better and I would have done a few more things. But I can't change what happened so if I ever go back I will definitely make different arrangements. 

I had hoped to go see the sakura trees at the University but the weather was really bad as I was leaving the hotel and downtown area. That snow, ice, rain mix which isn't nice to be out in. So I headed home. The drive back had better weather. 

And I saw a nice sunset.